Spoken Word poetry has become a staple in Christianity as of late. More YouTubers than I can count have taken to broadcasting their innermost thoughts with rapid fire delivery of theological one-liners and honest confessions about their brokenness.
I dare you, type Christian spoken word into your browser and see just how many similarly themed videos pop up. Don’t get me wrong, several of these folks that use this particular art form are talented people who I enjoy listening to. But it is a form that, in Christian circles, has been cheapened by the sheer volume of different players. It’s almost dizzying how many different people can release poems that sound the same, feel the same. So much of it is too didactic, machine-gun style systematic theology that relies on tired colloquialisms and pop culture references. And i’m-going-to-insult-my-audience’s-intelligence in your face references that remind you, as if you didn’t know, that THIS POEM IS ABOUT JESUS.
And I’m all for transparency and bold proclamations of the Gospel, but I believe poetry can be beautiful and paint pictures with words that help us see the Gospel in a different way while moving us like mere clever one-liners can never do.
I can probably count the number of times I’ve listened to an album and been reduced to a puddle of tears on one hand, and spoken word even less. Enter Correspondence (a fiction), an album by Levi the Poet, with musical accompaniment by Alex Sugg of Glowhouse.
I’ve followed Levi’s work for years, starting with his work Werewolves, a singy-screamy-talky journey through his own life. I first saw him at a hardcore show were he got on stage and yelled poetry between sets. From the beginning, I was sold. The way he spoke and the fire behind his words hooked me, and his passion for God and approaching him honestly inspired me, and still does to this day.
When the Kickstarter project for this album came up, I jumped at the chance to support him and his art. The album takes you on a sonic journey, telling a story about a boy and a girl in love, the girl goes on a journey to sea with her Father to chase the fabled white whale
and has to leave him.They communicate through letters in bottles, while the boy builds her a treehouse they will share when she returns home, twisting together the power of imagination and the innocence of childhood and the thrill of adventure and the pain of loss. It calls back to Melville, childhood, and the struggles of growing up in this world and finding God and yourself.
The power behind this story is that it is a story. It’s not simply content to just tell you the truth, it wants to show you the truth displayed through the eyes of fictional people and situations that mirror our own.
Like Lewis said, ““That is one of the functions of art: to present what the narrow and desperately practical perspectives of real life exclude.”
The emotion that surges behind Levi’s words just overwhelms me and this album is one I will certainly return to again and again. This album finds him maturing in his writing and his delivery, and while I miss him just screaming the words the whole time, I thoroughly enjoy the tale he weaves and the urgency he brings to his art. Just beautiful.
“If you can hear me, I’d rather have you than all of my answers.”
“However long your voyage, you’ll have a place to call home when you come back. The ladder is nailed to the trunk and I started hammering the foundation to be sure that we have something to build our future on.”
“The fog was like poetry: difficult to define but I am completely indifferent to what it means so long as we are able to get lost in it.”
“You’d think that if God created everything good, she wouldn’t stand up on a mountain proclaiming inanimate objects bad and demonizing the rest of creation like it’s the tempo’s fault that she’s stuck alone on a pedestal, cutting herself in half.”
“I have no idea what to believe, but beauty pulls me beyond myself like I don’t even have a choice, so I know I don’t believe in nothing.”
“Indifference sneaks in subtly, and subtleties can kill a man. It will be of no comfort to you, though if there is a God, know that I will stand before him with no excuse, and I can only assume that he will weep. “Tragedy, indeed, that innocence, though it never was, could have been.”
“I am lonely, and I can’t reconcile loneliness with meaninglessness because, like beauty, it leaves me wanting for more. She is still a decision that floats out like debris, on ripples that began at her stone’s throw.”
“Know that it was unending love that fueled the moon’s magnetic pull to pursue you through the death that threatened to conquer it, and it is beautiful. It cannot fail.”
- Favorite Tracks: “Rooster Cogburn in Indian Territory” and “Traditional Values Worldview”
I give this album a 5/5, but not that my opinion matters.
For more info on Levi the Poet and his projects and tours, please go to LevithePoet.net.